CANTON, Ohio – Dale Settle Jr. had a vision to take the business degree he was working toward at The University of Akron and use it to establish a ministry that would help people with both their physical and spiritual needs. He was killed by a gunman before he ever saw the ministry take form, but the vision he had is being carried on today by his father and step-mother and the foundation that now bears his name.
"The Dale Settle Jr. Foundation is not something that we came up with because Dale died. We were working on this before," Dale Settle Sr. told The Christian Post on Thursday.
It has been about a year since Settle and his wife, Michelle, received the news that Dale Jr. had been shot by an armed robber on his way to a Bible study in Canton, Ohio. After he was shot his friends gathered around him to pray, and he even prayed that forgiveness and salvation would come to the shooter as he was dying.
His father and stepmother say they forgive the shooter too.
"We don't really have bitterness, we already forgave those people that did it, but they need to pay their dues," said Michelle, his stepmother.
Dale Sr. says he still doesn't know who the gunman was. The church he attends, Faith Family Church, has a prison ministry that he would like to join, however, partially because he hopes to eventually meet his son's killer face to face. He doesn't need to meet him for his own healing, he claims, but he does have a message for the man.
"I would tell him how Dale forgave him, how God forgives him, and how he needs to get his heart right with God," he said.
The Dale Settle Jr. Foundation, of which Dale Sr. is the CEO and Michelle is the CFO, has a similar purpose, and that is to show the love of Jesus Christ by first providing for the physical needs of people so that they will be more open to spiritual discussions and prayer. One of the organization's catch-phrases, "Live Out Loud For God," points to the Settles' belief that Christians should not merely attend church on Sunday, but live their whole lives by faith.
"This is a humanitarian outreach, but our main goal is to share Christ and to bring people into the Kingdom of God," Dale Sr. said. He and his wife have together spent about $13,000 out of their own pockets to finance the ministry thus far.
Their outreach is somewhat unique in that, instead of purchasing a facility and waiting for needy people to come to them, they go to the communities in need in their van and a trailer packed with supplies. On Dale Jr.'s birthday last fall, the foundation did its first food drive and outreach as an organization, and it did so in the most unlikeliest place: the community where the shooting occurred.
Dale Sr. says the community is in a rough part of the city – so much so that many people wouldn't answer their doors to receive the free food they were being offered. But some people were willing not only to take the food but also to pray with the ministry's volunteers.
"Because of Dale's death we went to the neighborhood where he was shot to show forgiveness and the love of Christ there. Where most people would be bitter and angry and question their faith ... we wouldn't let our flesh to react that way," Dale Sr. said.
When Dale Jr. passed away over 800 people attended his funeral and, in the week that followed, hundreds of people put their faith in Jesus Christ at Faith Family Church services where his story was shared. His father says he had been a Christian since he was a child, but he underwent a transformation in the last year of his life in which he became more passionate than ever about serving God.
And even after his death, Dale Jr.'s way of life is still inspiring others to love God and do good works.
The foundation is having a Kick Off Rally, which is by invitation only, at Faith Family Church on Saturday to create awareness and collect food and financial donations that will go directly to supporting the ministry. Over 100 different businesses and individuals have already donated items, which will be given away as part of a silent auction and raffles during Saturday's event.
Michelle says the organization's website will be able to receive online donations within the next week or so, so that anyone around the world can offer their financial support to their ministry. The Settles want to expand the ministry to other communities where businesses, churches and nonprofits want to partner with them. Eventually, they hope to also take the Dale Settle Jr. Foundation into other parts of the world.
Correction: Tuesday, March 27, 2012
An article from March 23, 2012 about The Dale Settle Jr. Foundation incorrectly stated that the Settles have invested $30,000 of their own money into the foundation, when in fact they have only invested about $13,000. Also, the original opening paragraph of the article suggests that both Dale Sr. and Michelle Settle are Dale Jr.'s biological parents, when in fact Michelle Settle is his stepmother.